Teaching Our Kids to Live Generously

teaching generosity

Today at work I hosted a group of middle school students who celebrated Catholic Schools Week by giving back to the community. They whipped through the project I had planned for them, So I took a break and told them about the non-profit that I fund raise for, the population we serve, and some of their stories.

Since my non-profits serves those with cystic fibrosis, we serve a predominantly young population. Teens are especially great champions for cystic fibrosis, because it is likely that they know someone who is affected by this genetic disease. I hope that these young people could sense just how much our association does for people with CF, and how very important our mission is.

Now, our staff *could* have completed the tasks that these kids did. (It would have taken longer, though). The kids *could* have just spent two more hours in math or English class.

But the point of charity, of philanthropy, of generosity, is to step out beyond the ordinary in order to be extraordinary.

Generous children grow up to be generous adults. Generous children and generous adults change the world.

I’ve told you all about my friend Bridger before. Bridger is 9 years old. For three years now he has given up Christmas presents to raise money for Charity: Water. (you can catch a glimpse of him in this video)

Kids like Bridger make a big difference in our world.

How can we teach kids to live generously?

The answer is obvious, if not a little uncomfortable. Kids model what they see.

Is there a cause that is close to your heart? Do you talk about it as a family? Do you actively participate in fundraisers, and attend awareness events for your cause of choice?

In past generations, talking about money was taboo. There have been some very generous people in our past, but they are shrouded in a veil of anonymity.

While this is admirable, anonymity keeps generosity stagnant. Generosity is much more effective when it is contagious.

If our children see us actively supporting causes, they will want to do the same. . .either supporting the causes that you do, or, even better, choosing their own!

Generosity is the antidote for childhood selfishness.

Observe a very young child. Note the natural generosity. A baby is more than happy to share a pacifier, bottle, slimy toy or whatever is in his hands (provided his needs have been met).

This is the generosity that we should encourage. I always received such gifts with an enthusiastic “Thank you!”

When I caught my older children being generous with their time or treasures, I would pause, and let them know that what they did was honorable and acknowledged that it was also probably difficult.

I’ve taught the children that we serve others first, even if it means that we might run out of ice cream before we get to our own bowl.

These are all simple lessons in philanthropy.

I encourage you to find a group that you can support as a family with your time and treasures. Make giving into family time.

Giving of your time is time never wasted.

Chime in! How have you modeled generosity for your children? What lessons have you learned along the way? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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Comments: 6

  1. Lisa from The Meaning January 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm Reply

    I really like what you have said here, Pam – service and generosity are truly great things for children to learn and make part of their lives. And those things don’t have to be huge gestures – they can be just like what you talked about it. But those little foundations go a long way to fostering an attitude of service and kindness later.
    Lisa recently posted..Things I Never Thought I Would Do (Revisited)My Profile

  2. Alli February 1, 2014 at 9:59 pm Reply

    Beautiful post Pam. I’m with you all the way. Teaching our children to be generous is a basic building block for the foundation that will help them live rich lives. Not financial riches, but the kind that really matter. They comes from knowing you’re doing wonderful things for people who need it. The kind that comes with knowing that your actions, no matter how small, can make a positive impact in this world. I wish more people saw the world this way.
    Alli recently posted..52 Reads Week 3: The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenMy Profile

  3. Lisa Mallis February 2, 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Caught vs. Taught! Thanks for reminding us that children do learn more from what they “catch” us doing, then what we “tell” them to do! When we model the behavior we want to see, we will start to see more of it! Great post!
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    • Dakotapam February 3, 2014 at 8:55 am Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! I do think there is a lot more value to them observing desirable behaviors in their parents! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great Monday!
      Dakotapam recently posted..Review: HP Instant InkMy Profile
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  4. Ismail N March 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It’s a gentle reminder to parents and teachers to take the time to teach our kids about sharing with, and helping others. Kids are amazing – they can be very generous if we let them choose their passion.

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